Canon 50-1000 T5-8.9 Cine Zoom


Today, Canon officially introduces:

New Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9 Ultra-Telephoto Zoom Lens with Built-In 1.5x Extender for 35mm digital cine cameras

Sports, nature and documentary cinematographers will salivate–here is a lens for 35mm format that could rival long 2/3″ format zooms. At IBC we heard Sue Gibson describing how she uses adapters to fit 2/3″ long lenses on her 35mm format digital cine cameras. It is lightweight, compact, and reaches out very far.

Canon’s 50-1000 mm T5.0-8.9 zoom lens becomes a  75-1500 mm with its built-in 1.5x extender (giving it a 20x magnification). The 50-1000mm zoom lens has a removable servo drive unit, making it suitable for either broadcast-style or cinema-style production.

But first a brief detour. In April 2014, I met with Yasunori Imaoka, Group Executive, Canon Image Communication Products, along with Tetsushi Hibi, Senior General Manager, Canon Optics R&D Center, and Ryan Kamata, Sr Specialist, Canon USA Camera & Video Division. The following dialog took place:

Canon: What kind of lens would you like to see next?
Jon Fauer: Can I dream?
Canon: Yes, we are Canon.
Jon: How about a 20-2000 mm zoom?
Canon: Do you have any specific applications in mind for such a lens?
Jon: Sports, cars, wildlife, commercials, features, action. The shot at the Olympics with the runner approaching. A remake of “Kagemusha.” A charging herd of buffalo. For wildlife photographers, how about 3000 mm on the long end?
Canon: You’re getting greedy.
Jon: But as your cameras are more sensitive, it could be T5.6.
Canon: To replace the 150-600 [still photo lens]?
Jon: I owned one of your early 150-600 mm lenses, modified with a PL mount by Century Optics. It was huge and had a weird control that handled both zoom and focus, and wasn’t really a zoom. A new dream lens would zoom and be much smaller. So, I’ll see you next year at NAB with that lens?
Canon: We’re not sure about the 20-2000 but we are on the same page—we are always trying to develop innovative, new products that are beneficial and special for creative people.


Well, Canon was working very hard and very fast on such a lens.

Canon 50-1000 T5.0-8.9 Specs

  • Length: 15.9 inches (PL version)
  • Weight: 14.6 pound
  • Iris: 11 blades
  • Image circle: 31.4mm — covers Super-35mm format sensors.
  • EF- or PL-mount. Can be swapped at Canon Service Center.
  • EF versions of the lens designated: CN20x50 IAS H/E1
  • PL version designated: CN20x50 IAS H/P1
  • 180-degree focus rotation
  • Weather and shock resistant.
  • three 20-pin connectors
  • broadcast-standard 12-pin power connection for remote-control operation.
  • Consumes 700mA of power.
  • Aberration correction and high image quality from the image center to outer edges
  • Both 0.8 type and 0.5 type gear module focus gears

The removable Servo/Digital Drive unit has a zoom rocker switch, programmable zoom and focus settings, and data connections for broadcast field/studio controls of zoom and focus. Removing the drive unit is simple and lets you use cinema-style lens motors.

Lens-Camera Communication

The Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9 zoom lens is compatible with industry-standard camera-to-lens communication protocolsfor most brands and models of 4K, UHD and HD cameras. These standards include 12-pin serial communication (common to major broadcast camera brands), Cooke /i Technology and Canon EOS-LENS data communication technology (used by the EOS C500, EOS-1D C, EOS C300 and EOS C100 Cinema cameras). With the Canon Cinema EOS system, lens data (including aperture setting) is displayed in the EOS camera’s viewfinder, and is recorded in the video file as metadata along with the model name of the lens and the lens focal-length.


Broadcast-style features include servo control of focus, zoom, and iris. The removable Digital Drive unit has a 16-bit microprocessor encoder linked to the zoom/rocker switch. It zooms smoothly, without lag, covering the entire range from full-wide to full-telephoto in a quick 1.5 seconds up to a very slow 180 seconds. The encoder can transmit accurate analog and serial data for zoom, focus and iris settings through the Drive unit’s 20-pin connector.

Operators can also manually control focus and iris settings from the drive unit or use it to program focus, zoom position/speed, and iris settings for precise, repeatable moves. A small LCD display on the drive unit displays current settings. Focus can be adjusted manually by rotating a knurled rubber collar on the lens.


With its Digital Drive unit/hand grip removed, the Canon  50-1000 mm T5.0-8.9 Zoom lens offers a unique range of long focal lengths–going all the way to 1500 mm with the built-in 1.5x extender. Lens barrel marks are engraved in both feet and meters on both sides of the barrel, and focus marks on the front side of the lens are marked on an inclined surface to make them easy to see while operating the camera. Luminous paint is used for the scale display on one side of the barrel to help make the markings visible in the dark. Both 0.8 type and 0.5 type gear module focus accessories can be used, and gear positions support the use of a follow focus and all other standard electronic accessories.

Canon Cinema EOS lenses are identified by their red alumite color near the mount. The EF mount can be replaced with a PL mount, or vice versa (electrical system included). This conversion  can be provided at authorized Canon service centers. The EF and PL versions of the lens are designated CN20x50 IAS H/E1 and CN20x50 IAS H/P1, respectively.

 Cinema EOS Lens Family

The new Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9 Ultra-Telephoto Zoom lens joins Canon’s Cine-Servo 17-120mm T2.95; CN-E 15.5-47mm T2.8 L and CN-E 30-105mm T2.8 L Compact Cinema Zoom lenses; CN-E30-300mm T2.95-3.7 L and CN-E14.5-60mm T2.6 L full-size Cinema zooms; and six Cinema prime lenses for  single-sensor Super35mm production.

I am still dragging my heels about calling any lens 4K or any-K, but here’s what Yuichi Ishizuka, President and COO of Canon U.S.A. said about the new 50-1000 zoom: “The use of large-sensor 4K cameras is rapidly spreading beyond motion pictures and episodic television into many new types of productions such as broadcast sports and nature documentaries. We are proud to deliver a lens with the advanced 4K optical performance, impressive focal range and operational versatility required to serve the creative needs of today’s growing community of 4K and UHD image makers.”

Price and Availability

The new Canon CINE-SERVO 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9 Ultra-telephoto Zoom lens is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2015 for a suggested list price of $78,000. For more information about this new lens, visit the Canon U.S.A. website

Click on first image to begin slideshow.

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Panasonic Varicam 4K Ships

 Panasonic VariCam 35 and VariCam HS cameras are shipping.

The VariCam 35 has a 35mm sensor, PL mount, and records 4K RAW,  4K, UHD, 2K, HD and ProRes. The Varicam HS has three 2/3″ sensors, B4 mount, and records 1080p up to 240fps.

Both models will offer Apple ProRes 4444 and ProRes 422 HQ and both include Panasonic’s AVC-ULTRA family of codecs.

An interesting feature is how the 35mm and 2/3″ camera heads share the same recording module. An umbilical cable (coming in the next months) will connect between the camera head and recorder — useful for rigs, stabilizers, jibs, cranes and remote operation.

The VariCam 35 has a new Panasonic S35mm 4096 x 2160 (17:9) 4K MOS sensor with 14+ stops of dynamic range.

Working with Codex Digital, Panasonic will offer a high-speed 4K uncompressed RAW recorder for the VariCam 35 camera later this year (estimating December). It will record 4K VariCam RAW (V-RAW) up to 120 fps.

Both bodies are made of a rugged aluminum alloy and have a removable control panel.

Built-in color management includes support for the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) and in-camera color grading.

Panasonic  developed a new log curve (V-Log). The VariCam 35 can assign various LUTs to individual recording channels and camera outputs. For example, shoot UHD and record with the V-Log LUT, but assign a ”baked-in” 709 LUT on the HD / proxy recording for real-time monitoring, editing and dailies. The camera’s monitor, EVF and EVF outputs have similar selectable LUT capabilities. The VariCam 35’s In Camera Grading feature is fully flexible, with the camera able to record an ungraded 4K master (with associated metadata grading information) and graded (baked in) HD image simultaneously.

The cameras have a new OLED electronic viewfinder with optical zoom for checking focus.


VariCam 35

The VariCam 35 records 4K and UHD in AVC-ULTRA 4K, and 2K and 1080p HD in AVC-Intra 100/200 (AVC-Intra200 available only for FHD recording) and ProRes. To handle rapid file exchange, the camera encodes a high-resolution 3.5 Mbs proxy in parallel with 4K and 2K production formats. Metadata will also be available and it is written to all recording formats and files.

Connections include:  3G-HD-SDI x4 for 4K QUAD output;  HD-SDI out for monitoring (down-converting from 4K); a dedicated VF HD-SDI output  with all EVF status and display data; two XLR inputs to record four channels of 24-bit, 48KHz LPCM audio.

The VariCam 35 uses Panasonic’s new expressP2 card for high frame rate and 4K recording. The camera has four memory card slots, two for expressP2 cards and two for microP2 cards. The new 256 GB expressP2 card can record up to 90 minutes of 4K/4:2:2.  The microP2 card is designed for recording HD or 2K at “normal” production frame rates.


VariCam HS

The VariCam HS records 12-bit 4:4:4 AVC-ULTRA for mastering and archiving–and 4:2:2 10-bit for documentaries and sports.

The VariCam HS has three newly-developed, 1920 x 1080p MOS imagers with 14 stops of latitude. The camera/recorder uses a traditional RGB prism/imager system.

TheVariCam HS offers real-time high frame rate and off-speed recording to 240 fps in 1080p (using AVC-Intra Class100), and has the ability to ramp / change frame rates while recording. For example, you can ramp a shot of a player from normal speed to super slow motion while the camera is running.

The new VariCam HS offers image controls such as matrix, detail, gammas and a new Log recording capability.

The VariCam HS has a range of recording formats including AVC-Intra Class100 (recording as 1080/24p, 25, 30p, 50 or 60p with VFR up to 240p), AVC-Intra Class200 (up to 30p/60i) and 12 bit sampled AVC-Intra Class4:4:4 (up to 30p). Both AVC-Intra Class200 and AVC-Intra Class4:4:4 are suggested where image quality is the most important consideration.

The VariCam HS includes V-Log in addition to FilmRec and Dynamic Range Stretch (DRS) image contrast management controls. The VariCam HS has Panasonic’s Chromatic Aberration Compensation (CAC) technology to minimize lateral chromatic aberrations of the lens. The VariCam HS also has in-camera color grading.

Like the Varicam 35, the VariCam HS encodes a high-resolution 3.5Mbs proxy file in parallel with other formats, and uses Panasonic’s new expressP2 card for high frame rate recording (frame rates above 60fps). The new 256 GB expressP2 card can record about 32 minutes of 240p 1080 HD video.

  • The VariCam 35 (with AU-V35C1G camera head) has a suggested list price of $55,000.
  • The VariCam HS (with AU-V23HS1G camera head) has a suggested list price of $46,000.

Both prices include the he AU-VREC1G common recorder, AU-VCVF1G OLED viewfinder, and the AU-VSHL1G shoulder pad/tripod mount.


For more information call Panasonic at 877-803-8492 or go to: 


Takahiro Mitsui, Panasonic VariCam Engineer at IBC 2014 with VariCam 35

Takahiro Mitsui, Panasonic VariCam Engineer at IBC 2014 with VariCam 35


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Denz Monitor/Finder Bracket


Two “D’s” — Denz and Deity.

Here’s a very good Denz bracket to mount the superb Deity Mira eyepiece on a Canon C300/500 onboard monitor. The Denz handle replaces the Canon attaches to the top hotshoe of the C300/500 and replaces the original one from Canon. The other end of the Denz bracket has a female cold shot that holds the Canon audio/control module and 4″ monitor. The new system is able to position the monitor/viewfinder in many comfortable positions for handheld shooting.

Actually, the Denz bracket works on almost any camera with a hot/cold shoe and most other monitors as well.

  • Length of handle: 150mm
  • Adjustment: 70mm-130mm,
  • Swivelling: 270°,
  • Weight 420g


Präzisionsentwicklung DENZ Fertigungs GmbH, Otto-Hahn-Str. 12-14, D-85521 Ottobrunn/München, Tel.: 089 62 98 66 0, email: info(at)




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Blackmagic Camera Update 1.9.7

Blackmagic Design Camera 1.9.7 software is now available on the Blackmagic Design website. It includes dashboard on screen menus and disk formatting for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

The new disk formatting feature lets us format SSDs and SD Cards in camera. The disks no longer require a computer for formatting. Unlike computers that format disks for general storage use, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and Pocket Cinema Camera confirm the brand of disk and other disks parameters and then format for highest speed video data recording and playback for that specific type of disk.

This also means that as new disks are released in the future, new software can be released to provide maximum performance.

There’s a choice of two disk formats, ExFAT and HFS+. ExFAT is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X. ExFAT is good is you’re working on both Mac and Windows platforms. HFS+ is the native Mac OS format and allows higher performance on Macs and has good error protection because HFS+ supports journaling.

The new Blackmagic Camera Update 1.9.7 also includes the new dashboard menu that allows camera functions to be selected quickly. You can choose to format disks, enable focus peaking, go to the settings page, and select other camera operations with big graphic buttons.

Blackmagic Update 1.9.8 is for:

Blackmagic Cinema Camera

  • 2.5K 35mm sensor
  • New PL model
  • Also mounts in EF and MFT
  • Built in SSD recorder with solid state disks
  • Open file formats compatible with popular NLE software, such as ProRes 422 HQ, ProRes 422, ProRes 422 LT, ProRes 422 Proxy, DNxHD and uncompressed RAW. No custom file formats.
  • Features all standard connections, including jack mic/line audio in, 3G-SDI output for monitoring with camera status graphic overlay, headphone mini jack, Thunderbolt, LANC remote control and standard DC 12-30V power connection.
  • Built in touch screen LCD for camera settings and metadata entry compatible with popular video editing software including Final Cut Pro X.
  •  Ultra HD and 1080HD resolution at 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 and 30 fps.
  • Includes UltraScope software for live scopes via the built in Thunderbolt connection.
  • Includes DaVinci Resolve color grading software.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Key Features

  • 1080HD Super 16mm sized sensor
  • Compatible with Micro Four Thirds lenses. Other mounts via third party adapters
  • Built in SD card recorder with easy to use media.
  • Open file formats compatible with popular NLE software such as ProRes 422 HQ, ProRes 422, ProRes 422 LT, ProRes 422 Proxy and lossless CinemaDNG 12-bit RAW. No custom file formats.
  • Standard connections including mini jack mic/line audio in, micro HDMI output for monitoring with camera status graphic overlay, headphone mini jack, LANC remote control and standard DC 12-30V power connection.
  • Built in LCD for camera settings via  menus
  • 1080HD resolution capture at 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 and 30 fps.
  • Compatible with DaVinci Resolve Lite color grading software.

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ARRI Alexa SUP 10.0 Bug

ALEXA Software Update Packet (SUP) 10.0 has been removed temporarily from the ARRI website because of a critical recording bug. This bug could cause distorted images being recorded — while the image in the viewfinder, REC OUT and MON OUT looks OK.

ARRI recommends downgrading all ALEXA cameras back to SUP 9.2, which is available from the DOWNLOADS section of the ARRI website. ARRI is looking into this issue and will post an updated SUP as soon as possible.

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K-Tek ProShot


Tino Liberatore and Brenda Klemme Parker were carrying this intriguingly versatile ProShot rig around Cinec the other day. It’s a cool combination of monopod, baby legs, stabilizer, and shoulder rig–all in one and easily configurable without tools.

A “secret” to its success is the special patent-pending 3.8 pound Hexweight at the bottom, which acts as a counterweight to stabilize cameras up to 20 pounds by adjusting the length of the post.

Two handgrips adjust for handheld, stabilizer and baby-legs modes.

In hand-held mode, the ProShot’s thickly padded neoprene cushion rests comfortably on the shoulder. The Hexweight is positioned behind you and adjust for best camera balance.

ProShot becomes a 4’8” (1.46m) tall Monopod in seconds. There are 5 telescoping sections and the Hexweight becomes a weighted, stabilizing foot and avoids the top-heaviness of traditional monopods.

In Stabilizer Mode you hold the rig vertically and adjust the swivel/tilt head to level out the camera. The ProShot handles adjust easily into different positions.

ProShot is rugged and water resistant. It’s compact and lightweight (6.5-lbs / 2.9-kg including Hexweight)t.  Each ProShot comes with K-Tek’s  swivel/tilt monopod head ( with 3/8” screw) and removable quick release baseplate with ¼” and a 3/8” threads included. A DSLR 15mm rod upgrade kit is also available.

Made in the USA, ProShot lists for $849. For more information or to order visit or 

Tino Liberatore, Brenda Parker, Cosima von Spreti

Tino Liberatore, Brenda Klemme Parker, Cosima von Spreti

Tino Liberatore, Brenda Klemme Parker at Cinec

Tino Liberatore, Brenda Parker at Cinec


Tino and ProShot

Tino and ProShot


Tino’s Oktoberfest official shoes

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Denz BP12 Adapter for Alexa


Seen at Cinec, the latest Denz BP12 adapter attaches to the base of ARRI Alexas.

The baseplate slides onto industry-standard bridgeplates. Denz bridgeplates come in lengths of 600, 440, 325 and 200 mm and have almost indestructible, Teflon-impregnated hard-coat which provides a smooth surface.

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Sony F55 Doc Dock


The Doc Dock for Sony’s F55 Camera is officially named “CBK-55BK build-up kit.” It bolts to the base and turns the F55 into a single-operator, documentary/ENG-style, shoulder-resting camera.

A working prototype of the Doc Dock (CBK-55BK) will spend an evening in Los Angeles at the Digital Motion Picture Center in Sony’s Culver City Studios on October 9 at 6 pm.  A full line-up of Fujinon lenses will also be on display. Fujinon Cabrio lenses with their servo handgrips are almost standard-issue for this package.

RSVP to your local Sony representative.

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Panavision Flare Lenses, PVintage, F55


An interview with Scott Kevan on “Deliver Us From Evil” with Panavized Sony F55 Cameras, Panavision Flare and PVintage lenses.

JON FAUER: “Deliver Us From Evil” was released in July. What was the concept and visual style?

SCOTT KEVAN: It’s a story inspired by actual accounts of a NYPD sergeant from the Bronx, Ralph Sarchie, and his interaction with both violent street crime and some unusual experiences involving possession and the supernatural. The visual style wanted to reflect this, a combination of the reality of being a cop in NY mixed with his paranormal encounters.

The visual style comes from dealing with a subject matter that plays with what we know to be real, or what we think we know to be real, and what we don’t or what we’re not sure about. We wanted to ride this fine line between what’s possible and what’s impossible. Everyone experiences things in their lives that cause them to look back and question if it really happened the way that they think it happened or they are not 100% sure. Representing that visually was one of the goals. Another visual theme was guided by the fact that our main guy, Sarchie, lives in a world of darkness – literally and emotionally. Additionally, both of these ideas work together. It’s in the darkness where one can get tricked by shadows and movements and question one’s self. Finally, we wanted the environment of the Bronx specifically to inform the compositions and be a major presence in the story as well. That’s where the actual events took place and the architecture of that area has a weight to it and a darkness even in the daylight.

When did you first get involved in the production?

I got involved in the spring of 2013, I’d say about 7 weeks prior to principal photography. Immediately after reading the script, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the production and then after talking to Scott Derrickson, the Director, I was even more convinced.

 It all shot in New York?

It was 95% shot in New York…the opening sequence was shot in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi? Why?

The opening sequence takes place during the war in the Middle East. A military unit is following insurgents through the desert and into a palm grove, where they uncover a tunnel in the ground and upon exploring that, find some writing on the walls, deep, deep down under ground. Smash to black as they say and we’re in the Bronx.

Where did you rent the camera equipment?

Panavision New York.

These were Panavized F55 cameras?

Exactly. Panavized Sony F55s and we also had an F65 for some visual effects and off-speed shots. Panavision’s “cage” for these cameras is brilliant, allowing for all of the additional power needs and accessory attachments of today’s studio cameras.

Camera and lens package: How many cameras? What lenses?

We carried two F55s and one F65. Our lens package consisted of Panavision’s PVintage lenses, which were just coming on line last summer. These lenses use the glass from the older Ultra Speed Primes, but are re-packaged in more user-friendly housings. So our set included a combination of re-housed PVintage lenses and some older Ultra Primes. Additionally we carried a set of Panavision Flare Lenses in what they refer to as the medium grade, the coatings of which had been altered to offer more extreme flares, some reduced contrast and just have incredibly unique aberrations. The general philosophy was that I’d always start with one of the Flare Lenses. If things got a little over the edge, then I would pull back to the PVintage. And then maybe I would add a glass diffusion filter to get them more in line with what the Flare Lenses looked like. Additionally, we carried an 11:1 Primo that had the coating removed by Guy McVicker at Panavision Hollywood. That was a fantastic tool to have and I was very, very thankful to him for going through the trouble to do that by hand.

Removing the coating is an expensive, one-way ticket.

It was Guy’s idea and I wasn’t going to say no. I just ran with it and was happy I did because in terms of sharpness, contrast and color, removing that coating definitely brought it in line with the prime package that we chose. The sharper that these digital cameras get, I feel like many cinematographers are looking to the glass to find that organic nature to the images that were intrinsic with film exposure, whether it’s anamorphic, older lenses or a combination of everything out there.

We’re down to the equivalent of just 7 film stocks: Sony, Canon, ARRI, RED, Blackmagic, AJA, Phantom. Maybe a few more.

Digital cameras are getting sharper and sharper with higher resolutions and extended latitudes and I’d guess that’s also why there has been this trend in the market for anamorphic lenses. Take the Panavision C, E and G series…. they have such specific characteristics unique to not only each set, but to each lens. You’ll get an aberration in the upper right corner here, you’ll get a variation in where focus falls off there. They have such a personality to them. I think that as digital acquisition gets sharper, we sort of lose some of the personality the image capture used to have. Or at least that’s been my experience.

It’s ironic that here we are using new 4K+ cameras with old lenses—and they often look better on the new, high resolution digital cameras than they probably ever did on film.

I recently used a set of old ZEISS Super Speeds and had tremendous luck seeing flares come back that I hadn’t seen in 15 years. It was exciting to see how well these lenses looked, complete with nice bokehs. I do think that 4K acquisition is opening up a whole new door to older lenses.

Lots of lens experts agree with what you’re saying. They’re discovering things that they didn’t even imagine with these old “analog-days” lenses in the 4K world.


Panavision 75 mm Flare Lens


Tell me more about the Panavision Flare Lenses on the F55.

Panavision has a number of sets of Flare Lenses: in grades of light, medium and heavy. They basically removed or altered the coating on them to varying degrees. The heavy grades of Flare Lenses can completely wash out the entire image, but used with the right light sources and angles, they create very interesting effects. Like the ping off of the chrome on a car or a point of light in the background. I had luck using them with flashlights in some situations and in other instances, where the backlights were hard or too close to the camera lens, then I dropped back to the PVintage. The PVintage also have some very unique flares. What I really enjoyed about both sets was that I could find these happy accidents – as Conrad Hall said some years ago – some things you can’t really plan for.

You don’t really know what you’re going to get until you see it and you try it or something accidental happens on set and you think, “Oh wow, that’s fantastic.” Sometimes it’ll happen and you’ll go “Oh!, we can’t do that again–let’s change the lens.” But many times it turns out to be wonderful and exciting.

How did the choice of these lenses affect the overall look of the show in relation to the visual style? A vintage look or a flarey look? How did you describe it when you and the Director were discussing the idea?

It’s not a vintage, period or flarey look. What we were going for was a look that was both real and terrifying and I think the lens choice added to this as well as the camera’s low light capabilities. There are times where the darkness is actually accentuated by a lens flare from a flashlight. We felt that flares within darkness sometimes can feel even more threatening…we have a dark area and then if something else is flared out, you essentially have another area where you don’t know what’s behind there.

What effect do you think you had that you wouldn’t have gotten from glass filters in front of the lens?

I guess I find that these beautiful distortions are more unique or unpredictable when they are produced by layers of curved glass. It’s apples and oranges and sometimes you want both, sometimes you don’t. Additionally, composition plays a role differently with lenses vs filters.

But it was controllable? Could you see when you were going too far with the monitors?

Exactly. With the newer OLED monitors I’m able to push something to the edge where it goes too far and then pull back. We were playing with levels of darkness accentuated with flares and I wanted to discover where the edge was.

How did you decide which camera to use?

Basically through testing. The combination of the Panavision lenses and the Sony F55 produced the look that we were searching for. When both the Director and I walked out of the screening of the tests, there was no hesitation at all about which direction that we wanted to go. We were thrilled with the image quality and the F55’s ability to dig into the shadows and the soft quality of the lenses. At the same time it maintained a contrast that we both liked without getting washed out on the low end. Additionally, the ergonomics of the F55 worked for what we wanted to do because we were planning a good amount of handheld work, a bit of Steadicam, and we were in rather tight spaces. It was a location-based shoot in basements and places where the ceilings were less than six feet high at times.

What ISO did you rate the cameras?

1250, 800, 640…depending on the situation.

You recorded 4K to the onboard R5. Did you record simultaneously to SxS cards inside it as well?

Yes. And then it went to Dan Sheats, the loader / data manager, to double-check and make a backup copy, and then everything was sent to Colorworks in New York.

On set, how did you determine your look and how did you save the LUTs?

DI colorist Trent Johnson worked with me initially to set up the LUTs. I think he built fifteen preset LUTs. I looked at those and based on where I thought we were going to take the direction of the film, I gave notes and he altered the LUTs accordingly. After that the LUTs were preloaded into a Truelight cart that we kept on set and I was able to toggle between the different preset LUTs. We would indicate whatever LUT we were using on the slate and then when they did the dailies they would apply that same LUT. In the end, I found that I just really used one LUT for the entire film. I wanted to treat the LUTs more like film stocks. From my experience, the only way that I’m able to learn from shot to shot, scene to scene, is if there’s a consistency in the LUT. If I’m tweaking constantly then I lose my frame of reference. 

How would you describe this look or LUT?

We called it a bleach bypass LUT. It was higher contrast, a bit desaturated and skewed toward cyan.

And then on the camera itself you recorded in S-Log. What monitors were you viewing on set?

They were 20-inch Sony OLEDs.

Where did you do the DI?

We did that with Trent Johnson at Colorworks. Trent, who is an encyclopedia of knowledge about the color space of the cameras, was an asset to have during both the prep and the DI.

On the F55, how many stops of dynamic range do you think you were getting out of it?

I’d say 14+ stops of exposure latitude. One thing I liked about the F55 and F65 is how you can program one of the function buttons to give you a high range and a low range. So if you’re looking at a LUT on the monitor, you can push the high range button and it’ll bring everything down so you can see areas that were clipped in the Rec709 image, but may be perfectly fine in the RAW data. And the same on the low end. You can see if something is totally black or if there is any detail there at all. It helped me appreciate camera’s latitude.

How did you deal with focus?

There were a number of checks on that. The operator was able to see in the eyepiece. Julian Delacruz, the key First AC had a 17-inch monitor with cranked up sharpness to double-check on his side. And then I’m back at the 20-inch looking at focus as well. I am consistently impressed by how these guys that can actually pull focus off of the monitors because that was something I was always skeptical of over the years. But the guys that have mastered it are really phenomenal.

Who was your operator? And gaffer?

John “Buzz” Moyer was the “A” Camera / Steadicam Operator. Scott Ramsey was the Gaffer.

What cameras have you used on your previous jobs?

RED Epic, One; ARRI Alexa, Arricam, 535, 435, 235, BL4, 35-3, SR16; Sony F35, F3, F900; Panavision Genesis, XL, Platinum, Gold.

I’ll ask you a leading question. If you wanted to soften the image, why would you shoot in 4K rather than a lower resolution?

I think there are a couple of reasons. Certainly, one is archiving, in the same way that studios archived films in the past. Secondly, sometimes you want to start at a higher res because if you and then soften in the post workflow – that’s a look. However, there are always exceptions. We shot a flash-back sequence in Super 8. One idea might be to shoot it 4K and then bring it down to the Super 8 look in VFX and post, but there is much more that goes into the look of Super 8 because you’re dealing with not only the grain and the resolution, but you’re dealing with the size of the gate or sensor and how that size affects focus fall off. And, also, you’re dealing with the physicality of the camera. The way you move a 3-pound Super 8 camera is very different from the way that you’re able to move a 20-pound studio camera. So sometimes shooting in a lower resolution is the best solution to creating the desired look.

Was this film released in 4K?


A lot of it is night exterior New York. How did you handle the lighting?

It varied. There wasn’t one philosophy or one technique that we used throughout because they’re different sequences. There’s a sequence at the Bronx Zoo where the power’s out and so that is done with Airstar lighting balloons just for a soft ambience. I think “murkiness” is a better word for what I was talking about when I referred to the look as kind of washed out and under-exposed. That technique was used in the zoo sequence.

The other night exteriors we probably could have used a great deal of ambient light, but we wanted to stay away from sodium vapor. Any sodium vapor light that we encountered, we would gel down to neutral and by the time we got that neutralized, there really was nothing left. So in those sequences, more street sequences, it would vary–sometimes we used a gaggle of Source Four PARs, to create pools of streetlight. There was some backlight for the exteriors. For the interiors there were some sequences that we did entirely with a flashlight. Eric Bana would have a flashlight and then I would have a flashlight and a bounce board. Or I would put muslin around anywhere that wasn’t in the frame. Eric would work with me extremely well in helping me to add a little more light or take it away. But there are at least three sequences in the film that are entirely lit by flashlight.

What gels did you use on the streetlights?

To remove the sodium vapor, I used one and half blue plus half green. That’s why we had barely any ambient street light left.

Did you consider anamorphic at all?

We did consider anamorphic. At the time, the availability of lenses made it out of the question. In the end it was a good thing because it forced us to explore spherical options.

Back to the Sony F55, is there anything that you would like to see improved for their next model, for the next edition?

More frame rates, although that’s already been addressed so I guess I’m good with that.   I do think that operators and focus pullers might have more suggestions and ideas.

In general I feel like the digital cameras are focusing more on the sensors than on the cameras themselves. I would like to see advances that are driven by what film cameras used to do – speed ramping in camera, changing shutter angle within a shot and compensating with aperture and a hand crank option

How about a 4×3 sensor to use all those anamorphic lenses that aren’t available?

Definitely. It would be nice. I can’t imagine that not coming.

Anything else about the cameras?

You know, oddly enough, it sort of comes more from the broadcast background that Sony has– but I like the behind-the-lens ND filter wheel. If you need to knock something down fast, that’s a nice feature to have.

Where did you learn about filmmaking and how did you gety started?

I guess it started when I was 10 and given a Nikon FG-20. After that, my interest in photography was solidified. I continued by experimenting with short video projects throughout high school, then studied film at UT in Austin and eventually focused on cinematography at AFI. All the while, working on sets and watching everything around me. And in truth, I’m still learning.



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Sony 28-135 Zoom


At Photokina, Sony’s new 28-135 mm f/4 E-mount zoom is another hint of where I think things are heading for motion picture cameras and lenses. It’s a full-frame still format (24x36mm) zoom. And it has optical image stabilization.

I had not realized that it was full-frame when I was at IBC. And I’m not yet sure if the price is a misprint. Could it really have a street price of  $2,499.00 when it ships?

The new servo zoom E-Mount FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS (SELP28135G) zoom is the “kit lens” for Sony’s new PXW-FS7K camera.

Sony say’s it’s “the world’s first 35mm full-frame interchangeable power zoom lens. It features constant f/4, independent rings for iris, zoom and focus, and is dust- and moisture-resistant. The SELP28135G has SteadyShot (optical image) stabilization, minimum focus breathing” and uses Sony’s new Super Sonic wave Motor (SSM) for reduced motor noise when shooting.


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ZEISS Distributor Event 2014


The ZEISS 2014 Distributor Event was held yesterday evening at the stellar Schloss Bensberg grand hotel and Michelin 3-star restaurant.

Before we get to the main event, a Food and Drink Times digression is in order. The following headline appeared in today’s International New York Times, sounding like something we might have written: “Over a Michelin-starred dinner of Scottish venison and red Burgundy in February 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain outlined his strategy for defeating a Scottish independence referendum.”

As NYTimes goes, so does FDTimes.

Over a Michelin-starred dinner of Filet of Beef, Rioja  and Riesling, ZEISS Senior Vice President and General Manager Dr. Winfried Scherle welcomed distributors from more than 35 countries around the world.

The wines included sparkling Sekt, a 2011 Reinschiefer Riesling from Schaetzel vineyard  (hints of peach), and a 2009 Rioja Crianzo DOC Bodegas Sierra Cantabria. The dinner began with a chestnut cream soup containing mature port, topped with crostini of rilette, cinammon and lardo. The filet of beef was coated with roasted almonds, lightly flavored with red wine butter, accompanied by cauliflower mousseline, romanesco and potato slice.

A wedding-worthy dessert buffet followed, with cheeses, fresh fruits, amazing tiramisu, panna cotta, crème brulé with torrone, olive oil and chocolate mousse, and chocolate frittate with limoncello sauce.

After some great Motown music and wild and crazy dancing (pictures currently being checked for improper exposure :) ZEISS Sales Director Michael Schiehlen announced the coveted Distributor of the Year. And the winner was Saeki of Korea.


L-R: Michael Schiehlen, Eun Mi Lee, Dai Ho Lee, WInfried Scherle

Denz 90° Camera Bracket


Denz Digital Camera Bracket 90°  (DCB 90)

Portrait mode framing is increasingly popular. (Yes, it’s easier to hold the iPhone vertically to take pictures.) This will surely affect how we view and compose not only stills, but also video.

To avoid cropping or pillaring  the sensor area when rotating the aspect ratio vertically, Munich-based manufacturer DENZ, in cooperation with PhotoCineRent in Paris, developed a 90° camera support. This positions any digital camera at a 90° angle on any tripod or dolly.

Now, instead of cropping the image at its sides, the sensor is in an upright position delivering its full resolution.

The system consists of two 90° angle brackets, 2 redesigned BP-multi-special baseplates, a DENZ BP12 adapter, a universal balancing bracket, a camera-specific support plate, and 4 rods as an option.

Technical Data:

Side length of angle brackets 200mm (diam. 19mm, 104mm apart), width 155mm, weight 1,6kg.

For more info:

Präzisionsentwicklung DENZ Fertigungs GmbH, Otto-Hahn-Str. 12-14, D-85521 Ottobrunn/München, Tel.: 089 62 98 66 0




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Canon C500 & C300 Updates

CanonColorGamutsAs Canon celebrates its 80th anniversary and delivery of 100 Million EF lenses, free firmware upgrades were announced for the Cinema EOS C500 4K and C300 cameras, to be released in November.

Support for ITU-R BT.2020 broadcast standard color space (for EOS C500 and EOS C500 PL camera models)

The ITU-R BT.2020 (Rec. 2020) color space tested for 4K TV broadcasting earlier this year in Japan will be shown at IBC. The firmware upgrade for the EOS C500 and EOS C500 PL cameras support this standard. Canon announced a firmware to the DP-V3010 4K reference display today.

Enhanced Cinema RAW (for EOS C500 and EOS C500 PL camera models)

Upgraded Cinema RAW Development software features the addition of 3D-LUTs for converting from Cinema Gamut/DCI-P3+ to ITU-R BT.709 (Rec. 709) and DCI-P3. Support for EDLs  enables only necessary time code-designated segments to be converted to the DPX and ProRes formats suitable for editing, effectively doing away with the need to process unnecessary files. When using a PC  with Intel Iris Pro graphics, Cinema RAW Development 1.3 enables faster development of 4K Cinema RAW data.

Improved setting of  white balance for EOS C500 and EOS C300 cameras 

The new firmware upgrades allow easier setting of color temperature using the camera’s FUNC button.

30-inch Canon DP-V3010 display

Canon’s 30-inch Canon DP-V3010 4K display gets a new firmware upgrade: support for ITU-R BT.2020 color gamut (Rec. 2020) and ACES (Academy Color Encoding System) color management standard.

ITU-R BT.2020 color gamut

The new firmware upgrade for the DP-V3010 enables display and verification of 4K and 8K video  captured in  ITU-R BT.2020 (Rec. 2020) color gamut for. It pairs well with the EOS C500 Camera.

Verification of Cinema Gamut and DCI-P3+ video

The firmware upgrade will enable users of the Canon DP-V3010 to display and confirm video  in not only the currently supported DCI-P3 (SMPTE PR 431-2), ITU-R BT.709 (Rec. 709), EBU, SMPTE-C and AdobeRGB color gamut, but also Cinema Gamut and the DCI-P3+ color gamut supported by the EOS C500Camera.

Support for YCbCr 4:4:4, other video formats

The new firmware upgrade supports YCbCr 4:4:4 luminance and chroma sampling. Furthermore, Canon’s DP-V3010 supports the 48 frames-per-second standard. The firmware upgrade also includes support for a variety of other video formats.

Addition of Peaking function

A Peaking function included in the new firmware displays a color outline around subjects in focus. This can be helpful checking whether a shot is in focus or soft.

Additional updates:

  1.  Gain R/G/B and Bias R/G/B functions enable color temperature settings to be adjusted separately
  2. A new function lets users delete imported LUTs
  3.  Automatic switching between 3G-HDI and HD-SDI
  4. Function Guide: displays the list of functions assigned to each F button
  5. Banner: enables users to set the banner display to “off”
  6. OSD Position: allows users to select the placement of  OSD (On-Screen Display)items as the menu, image-quality adjustment slide bar and time codes
  7. Selection of how Interlace or PsF input signals are displayed

Canon plans to exhibit products supporting the ITU-R BT.2020 color space at their  booth during IBC 2014 in Amsterdam, September 12-16, 2014.


ARRI Alexa 3.2K ProRes for UHD

ARRI will offer no codec before its time. That time is when the image and color scientists on Tuerkenstrasse declare picture perfection. In an upgrade announcement reminiscent of the famous Orson Welles line (“we will serve no wine before its time”), ARRI Alexa cameras will soon be able to record 3.2K ProRes for seamless up-rez to UHD/4K in post.

FDTimes readers recently sent a salvo of emails asking why Amira could do it and why not Alexa?

ProRes 3.2K for Alexa cameras will be available in a software update (presumably SUP 11) scheduled early next year. ProRes 3.2K allows a similar up-sampling in post to UHD as Arriraw Open Gate does to 4K.

For TV productions working in UHD,  Alexa XT cameras and Classic cameras with an XR Module will be able to record ProRes 3.2K. The data rates will be well below uncompressed Arriraw (ProRes 4444 3.2K is expected to be around 700 Mbit/s, which is 1/3 of Arriraw Open Gate’s 2.17 Gbit/s).

The ARRI Amira upgrade announced last week offers ProRes UHD recording in-camera and in real time to CFast 2.0 cards up to 60 fps. This  in-camera up-rez is possible because Amira has a powerful processor. Amira’s UHD uses the same 1.2x up-sample filter that Alexa’s Open Gate mode employs to up-rez in post for 4K distribution.

Alexa ProRes 3.2K is a 16:9 format. Image diagonal is 29.74 — so almost all 35mm cine lenses will cover. Where do the extra pixels come from? The Alexa HD image area is 2880 x 1620. The additional width comes from the 5% extra surround view area of the sensor, which is also used in Open Gate.

Numbers, Facts and Figures

  • Alexa ProRes 3.2K is 3168 x 1720
  • Amira UHD is 3200 x 1800
  • UHD is 3820 x 2160
  • Arriraw Open Gate is 3.4K
  • ProRes 3.2K for Alexa XR and XT cameras will be available in ProRes 422, 422 HQ, 4444 and 4444 XQ.

Official information on the ARRI website.



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FDTimes at IBC

FDTimes-Issue62-63-cover1080Film and Digital Times double issue 62-63 paper edition at IBC at entrance to Hall 11, booth 11.F31 (home of Aaton-Digital, Transvideo, FDTimes) and at the many booths of our sponsors.

We’re printing this IBC September 2014 Edition simultaneously in Los Angeles and in Amsterdam. Worldwide edition is being shipped to subscribers now.


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ProRes UHD for AMIRA


Kevin and David Couliau shooting a promo video with French Olympic boxing champion Brahim Asloum using PhotoCineRent AMIRA. Photos courtesy of PhotoCineRent

We got scooped by ARRI. I thought this information was embargoed until IBC–but there it is today on the ARRI website. Here’s what FDTimes learned on a very recent trip to Munich:

Documentarians dragging their feet on the way to the AMIRA store will doubtlessly hit the ARRI speed-dial button when they hear this. If their only hesitation, up to now, was caused by the ominous hyphenate “future-proof,” that anxiety is now assuaged.

Wildlife cinematographer Sophie Darlington recently wrote, “I think many wildlife production companies will be waiting for a 4K version to satisfy the pixel pickers.” Yes, Sophie, this upgrade may be for you and them.

A new software upgrade for ARRI’s documentary-style AMIRA camera will allow it to record ProRes UHD files offering future-proof headache relief.

Producers, studios and companies considering the longevity of their programs wanted assurance that they would be suitable for UHD transmission, viewing, streaming or downloading. The old mantra of “we’ll just do the re-make when the next standard rears its head” is no longer credible. (Remember how long it took stations and studios to move from standard 16mm to Super 16mm, long after every new camera in the world was already fitted with a S16 gate?)

For productions that need to generate UHD deliverables, AMIRA will  offer the ability to record all ProRes codecs in Ultra High Definition 3840 x 2160 resolution directly onto the in-camera CFast 2.0 cards, at up to 60 fps. This feature, available for purchase through a software license (and a sensor calibration for existing AMIRA cameras), comes in response to feedback from AMIRA customers, some of whom have been grilled about UHD/4K deliverables by clients. It is made possible by the camera’s image quality, processing power and reprogrammable system architecture (FPGA).

(Note that this up-rez can be done in-camera because the AMIRA has a powerful processor. You can still up-rez in post, as you can with ALEXA.)

Whether a production is pursuing UHD production from lens to living room, from deal to distribution, or simply want to archive in UHD for future-proofability and potential future profit, AMIRA will have an  upgrade that requires no additional -postproduction.

For major feature films, an up-sample to 4K can be carried out after visual effects and other postproduction tasks have been completed at 2K resolution. For certain fast-paced AMIRA productions, however, there may not be the time or resources for such processes in post, which is why 4K or UHD directly in-camera has been requested.

AMIRA’s UHD uses the same 1.2x up-sample filter that ALEXA’s Open Gate mode employs to up-rez for 4K distribution. In the AMIRA, this up-sample to UHD happens in- camera, and in real time, as just mentioned.

Outputting UHD broadens the distribution options. The 14+ stop dynamic range remains unaltered, as does the colorimetry, contrast, style and look. By making the sensor’s image data compatible with higher spatial resolution formats, the UHD upgrade addresses concerns about a 4K future.

Markus Dürr, ARRI AMIRA Product Manager, said, “Feedback on AMIRA from all over the world has been overwhelmingly positive, and it is clear that the camera is already a great success, as it is being used on an amazing variety of challenging productions. Already acclaimed for its phenomenal image quality, ease of use and versatility, the new ProRes UHD output will take these benefits even further, adding value for customers in areas like China, where 4K is a major focus of industry attention.”

ARRI will be at IBC: booth 11.F21  and at Cinec: booth 3-C01


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Jeffrey Reyes joins ZGC Inc.


Jeffrey A. Reyes has joined ZGC as Director of Sales for the Americas—North and South. (ZGC distributes Cooke lenses in the Americas.)

Jeffrey  worked in sales, customer service, and independent film production. He recently worked for 6 years at ARRI as Director of Sales for Latin America handling camera, lighting, accessories and lenses.

Jeffrey will live in LA, on airplanes and hotel rooms.

The rest of the Cooke team continues as always: Thomas Greiser is Director of Sales, Europe, Australasia, and Africa. Geoffrey Chappell is Director of Sales, Asia and Middle-East. Juergen Schwinzer handles special projects.

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Denz Anamorphic Viewfinder



Here’s an anamorphic update on the venerable DENZ optical viewfinder.

The OIC 35-A from Munich-based Denz is can switch back and forth between spherical and anamorphic viewing. The ground glass holder has been adapted from the OIC 35 and allows use of all previous Arriflex 435 ground glasses.

The new OIC 35-A Anamorphic/Spherical Viewfinder has an adjustable eye-piece (+/-3 diopter), removable eyecup, and comes in PL or Panavision mounts.

Contacts: Präzisionsentwicklung DENZ Fertigungs GmbH, Otto-Hahn-Str. 12-14, D-85521 Ottobrunn/München, Tel.: +49 (89) 62 98 66 0

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50 Years Ago Today: Ranger 7


50 years ago, on July 31, 1964, Ranger 7 took the first pictures at close range of the Moon. These pictures were made with Angenieux 25mm f: 0.95 M1 lenses.

The Ranger program was a series of nine unmanned space missions by the United States in the 1960s, between 1961 and 1965, whose objective was to obtain the first close-up images of the surface of the Moon: large-scale topographic information needed for the Surveyor and Apollo projects. The Ranger spacecraft were designed to take images of the lunar surface, transmitting those images to Earth until the spacecraft were destroyed upon impact. A series of mishaps, however, led to the failure of the first six flights.

Ranger 7 was the first US space probe to successfully transmit close images of the lunar surface back to Earth. It was also the first completely successful flight of the Ranger program. Launched on July 28, 1964, Ranger 7 was designed to achieve a lunar impact trajectory and to transmit high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface during the final minutes of flight up to impact. Ranger 7 reached the Moon on July 31, 1964.


Angenieux 25 mm M1 lens

Read the complete story from Angenieux about Ranger and Apollo missions using Angenieux lenses. Download the PDF here:  AngenieuxRanger-50Years-fdt





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Luc Besson’s “Lucy” Opens Today… Interview with Thierry Arbogast, AFC

ABS-38858 Thierry Arbogast

Thierry Arbogast, AFC

Thierry Arbogast, AFC is an award–winning French cinematographer. He was born in France in 1957. His work with director Luc Besson began in 1989 with “La Femme Nikita.” Their most recent collaboration, “Lucy,” starring Scarlett Johansson, opens July 25, 2014. Among many awards, Thierry won the Vulcan Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for “The Fifth Element” in 1997, the César Award for Best Cinematography in 1998 for “The Fifth Element,” and the César again for Best Cinematography in 2004 for “Bon Voyage.” Thierry’s other credits include “Léon: The Professional” (1994), “Asterix at the Olympic Games” (2008), “The Lady” (2011), “Malavita (The Family)” (2013), and about 70 more films.


Writer-Director-Camera Operator! Luc Besson on “Lucy,” starring Scarlett Johansson, with Sony F65. Photos in this article by Jessica Forde. ⓒ Universal Pictures

“Lucy” was directed by Luc Besson. He was born in Paris in 1959. His parents were Club Med scuba instructors. His first big success was “The Big Blue” (1988) about free diving, followed by “La Femme Nikita” in 1990. He won a César for Best Director on “The Fifth Element” as well as many other awards. He founded EuropaCorp in 2000, built the Cité du Cinema stages and post facilities in Saint-Denis in the film district of Paris, and worked on more than 50 films as writer, director and producer.

Luc Besson’s films are renowned for their highly visual style, edge-of-the-seat action, quirky characters, and delicious dialog (Léon: And stop saying “okay” all the time. Okay? Mathilda: Okay. Léon: Good.)

Besson writes and is involved in every aspect of his films. He operates the camera himself. His prodigious handheld camera work and great gliding moves deserve recognition by the Society of Camera Operators. He has always favored the latest, most innovative technologies. He also seems to be daring in his choices of cameras, no matter the size or weight—as long as it fulfilled the high technical bar he required. At a time when most people shunned the Arriflex 535—Bill Bennett, Gary Thiltges, Jim Jannard and I were lonely members of the original unofficial 535 owners’ association—there was Luc Besson in many production stills, shown fearlessly handholding the 535 on “The Fifth Element.” For “Lucy,” he purchased two Sony F65s at a time when few people in Europe were using those cameras. Colleagues noticed and the camera gained acceptance.

Behind the scenes video from IMDB (4:38 min)

Jon Fauer, ASC spoke with Thierry Arbogast a few days ago. Thanks to Julien Bachelier, DIT, for additional editing on this interview.

JON FAUER: What cameras were you using on “Lucy?”

THIERRY ARBOGAST: We shot most of the film with two F65 cameras. We chose them after doing many tests with all the major brands. After screening the results in a theater, our favorite camera for the look of this film was the F65—especially for its color space.

Did you shoot it in 4K?

Yes, of course, we shot in 4K. I think there will be selected screenings in 4K. But probably 90% of the film release will be projected in 2K.

Where did you rent the equipment from?

The camera equipment came from the rental house Next Shot.

I visited there last year—in la Cité du Cinema, Paris.

They bought two F65 cameras for the movie because they didn’t have any when we chose the F65 for the film. So Next Shot bought two Sony F65s for the movie and also an ARRI/FUJINON Alura 18-80 mm zoom.

Tell me about the lenses that you used on the show.

We shot with the Cooke S4/i primes. The Cooke S4 is my favorite prime lens. We had the complete set (12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 25, 27, 32, 35, 40, 50, 65, 75, 100, 135, 150, 180 mm). And we had two zooms. The 18-80 ARRI/Fujinon and an Angenieux Optimo 24-290. I like this Optimo zoom; I think it is one of the best. The 18-80 is a very good zoom for Luc because he likes to operate the camera with a short lens but he sometimes wants to zoom during the shot. The 24-290 was for long lens shots, but we didn’t use it that much. Just sometimes.

Since you had two F65 cameras, were you shooting both at the same time?

No, we never used them simultaneously. We had two cameras because Luc likes to have the second camera ready to go any time. The main camera, operated by Luc, usually had the 18-80 zoom. But the second camera was always on the side ready to go with a Cooke S4. For example, we might be shooting with the “A” camera and then Luc would ask for a Steadicam shot. But, of course, he’d supervise the Steadicam shot.

Isn’t the F65 heavy for Steadicam?

Not really. The F65 looks a little bigger than other cameras—especially bigger than the RED, which is very small. But if we compare weights, the F65 is not very heavy. (11 lb / 5 kg.) The Sony’s body is made of something lightweight (magnesium). It looks big, but it’s completely lightweight. Unfortunately, the F65 looks like a cheap camera. If we compared the styling of the F65 to other cameras, the others look much better.

But in our tests, we and our colorists found that the images on the F65 had the best picture, the best color space for this film.

What was the look or the style for this film?

We spoke about the style of the movie during pre-production. Luc told me he wanted something like “Inception.” He told me he wanted something close to that look and we decided with the assistance of some reference photos with the art department. Especially in Taipei, the look was very colorful, very shiny.

Did you soften the image with filters or shoot clean?

Just clean. Luc always works with a clean picture. Always. No diffusion, no filters.

So you and he are not afraid of 4K for faces? Unlike some of our other colleagues who seem to be concerned about that?

No, we always try to find something sharp, with high definition, and we are not afraid of 4K.

I love anamorphic lenses, but Luc has not wanted to work with anamorphic lenses for quite some time. When we did “Fifth Element,” Digital Domain asked for it to be shot in spherical, Super 35mm. Since then, Luc has worked with spherical lenses. He came back to anamorphic lenses only for “Malavita” (“The Family”) with Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer. The French title “Malavita” comes from the name of the dog in the story. It was a very famous book and this was an adaptation. It made a lot of money. Luc asked me what I thought for lenses on his last 35mm film. He was thinking it would probably be the last movie that he was going to make using motion picture film. He asked me if I agreed to shoot in anamorphic. And I said, “Wonderful, I love anamorphic lenses.” We used the Panavision anamorphic G-Series lenses, Primo Close Focus, and some anamorphic zooms.

But for this movie, “Lucy,” he told me he preferred to shoot in spherical because it’s would be easier with effects, and also there would be a lot of close focus. It was Luc’s choice. Also with the F65, it would be bad to shoot in anamorphic because the sensor is not tall enough.

Because it’s 16×9 and the sensor height is less than 18mm?

Yes, it will crop. So we tested spherical lenses with the F65. We liked the Cooke S4 set. They are very good lenses, very sharp, very beautiful. But they are not too “crispy,” you know? I think it’s good for digital to be not too sharp…not too hard or harsh.

Where did you get the S4 Cookes? From EMIT?

Next Shot already had many S4s primes. But I wanted a complete set, so they just bought the rest.

You shot the entire film with F65 cameras?

Yes, most of it.

What is “Lucy” about?

It’s a story about a woman. You can get some information about the story from the Internet. But I can’t speak about the story because it’s opening soon.

I’m reading online: “A woman accidentally caught in a dark deal turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.” So it’s science fiction and action, right?

Yes, exactly. Some parts are science fiction. But it’s not complicated science fiction. It’s a story in the reality of the city. It’s a normal movie, but there are some parts that are a little futuristic.

Getting back to the style. Your lead actress is Scarlett Johansson, a beautiful woman.

She’s a beautiful woman. We used ring lights on the camera all the time. Because I wanted to have very good highlights in the eyes. I wanted her to be as beautiful as possible. I used the ring light a lot of times, with a dimmer. The dimmer was controlled wirelessly. When the camera moved, I could dial the brightness of the ring light up and down.

Is it wireless? Do you do it by remote control?

Yes, exactly. For example, if I do a travelling shot with Scarlett, and if at some point we go in front of a mirror or glass, I can go down or turn if off if there is a reflection of the ring light in the glass. Also, if the actress comes close to the lens, I can go down or I can go up if she goes a little further away.

This is on the zoom lens?

The ring light was attached to the zoom lens. And also on the Steadicam with the Cooke S4 lens.

Really? You had a ring light on the Steadicam?

Exactly, but we built a special ring light for the Steadicam. The ring light was in daylight, but we had some filters that we put in front to go warmer and to go to tungsten. I asked my gaffer to make one with different LEDs. Warm and tungsten and daylight. But it was not possible to do it so quickly. So we only had one in daylight and we used gels to warm it. But next time if I have to do a movie with a ring light again, I’m going to try to build one with two different LED colors: tungsten and daylight so we can mix them together and chose the perfect color that we want.

Let’s talk about the lighting in general.

On this movie we used all the latest technology in lighting, LED, and so on. In Taipei, I used some ARRI LED units that can go red, yellow, blue, every color. You can turn the button and it goes to any color you want. I used that for the Taipei shots with Scarlett in a taxi. When we had a close-up of her at night in the taxi, or in the street, there were a lot of different color signs outside. Taipei has many huge color signs everywhere in the street. So we put some LEDs near the lens and I changed the color to red, blue, green. It was very nice.

We also used these lights in the nightclub scene. It’s a flashback. The look of the movie is quite colorful.

What key lights did you use for your big setups?

I used big 18K lights in the stage. We had a lot of sets on stage and I recreated daylight for the hotel scene. We had a lot of scenes in the big hotel and we created a lot of daylight—big sources of light from outside. We used a lot of blue screen also. Actually, the majority of the movie was shot on the stage. After shooting the real locations, we matched them on the stage. In Taipei, we shot in some real locations—including some bad restaurants and some crappy locations—but they are very beautiful in the movie.

With all of those different locations, did you use the built-in ND filters inside the F65?

On stage, not so much. There, I adjusted the ISO sensitivity of the camera. But outside, of course, when we shot in real daylight with the sun, we used the ND filters.

For exteriors, did you use HMI lights?

Not so much. We used a lot of natural light. We had a chase sequence in Paris that was very sunny, with very natural light. Afterwards, we matched it with the car and the actors on stage. So the big chase was in the real location, with the car moving; but inside the car, we matched everything on the stage with the actors because we didn’t want to have the actors doing this chase in the streets of Paris.

What lights did you use on the stage to match?

HMI to recreate daylight. We put a circular track around the car and used an HMI—probably 12K—to recreate the sun. This HMI sun was on the track so we could move it around the car to have the feeling that the car was turning.

Did you shoot in slow motion?

Not really. Luc didn’t use slow motion for this movie.

Where did you do post production and grading?

At the Digital Factory ( in the Cité du Cinema. On Lustre. Luc always wants to do the grading in France. Since his very first movie, he has done the grading in France.

When you were shooting, did you have a DIT to set the looks?

Yes, I have a DIT on the set all the time to check the exposure and to be sure that there are no technical problems. And also I have a Data Manager to take care of the back end.

Do you operate the camera or one of the cameras?

Luc does the camera operating himself. Always. From the beginning, from his first movie, he was always behind the camera himself. Luc usually works with only one camera. If there are some action scenes, sometimes he uses the second camera for something very special, but not usually. If there is a second camera, I take it. But because we had the Steadicam 75% of the time, it was standing by, ready to go, already configured.

When you are not operating second camera, are you watching on a monitor?

Yes. We had a Sony OLED monitor that I liked very much for the whole movie.

I’m looking at IMDB. It says that you used an Alexa and an Epic for some shots?

Yes. For the car chase in Paris, as background plates. We needed to match the chase with the actors later in the studio. We shot the chase during the middle of August. Paris is completely empty during August. It’s the best time to do a chase. But the chase was supposed to be with the actors and the actress and they were not available at this time. Scarlett came to Taipei in September. So we filmed the chase elements without the actors. We mounted six RED cameras on a camera car: one in front, one behind, two on the sides, one tight, one wide. At every point, we needed to match the actors. We had this camera car do the chase along the rue du Rivoli in Paris. At the time, it was very difficult to find six F65s in Paris. It was easier to find six RED cameras in Paris. That’s the reason why we shot with the RED in 4K, which was very comfortable.

So the RED cameras were for the car chase and what was the Alexa for?

Alexa was also used from time to time because it was easier to find for occasional extra camera shots. I love the Alexa too. We also did some shots with the Canon 5D. We used the 5D for some very small, very quick shots. But when you have an action scene, quickly cut, it’s not a big deal to match everything together. There are some shots that are just two seconds long.

Since we may have people from Sony reading this, do you have any comments to them on what you liked about the camera, what you didn’t like, what you’d like them to improve for the next camera?

If I have some suggestions for the F65, it would be a bigger 4:3 sensor for the anamorphic lenses (18 x 24 mm). Not the 16:9 sensor. The bigger the sensor, the happier I am. At minimum, an anamorphic lens should cover it (without cropping).

On this show, what aspect ratio was it? 2.35:1?

Yes. We shot 2.35:1, spherical, Super 35mm. But for the next movie, if I want to use anamorphic lenses, I would be happy to have the quality of the F65 with a bigger sensor that captures the full 4:3 anamorphic squeezed frame (23.76 x 17.82 mm).

Why are so many people interested in anamorphic?

Because of the style of anamorphic, because of the depth of field anamorphic lens, and especially the quality. There are some old lenses that provide a very nice atmosphere and picture. We don’t always need to be so realistic and anamorphic offers something that may be a little more poetic in style. It’s my point of view but it’s the same for a lot of cinematographers.

A lot of us love anamorphic lenses, especially in digital because it blocks the digital style. I am very open. There are some movies I prefer to make in Super 35 with prime spherical lenses. But there are also some movies that I prefer to make in anamorphic. I choose ARRI Alexa for anamorphic because it’s the only camera that has a digital sensor that covers the full anamorphic lens. The new RED Dragon camera has a sensor that is bigger—it crops a little less – but it still crops. But the F65 crops too much when we use anamorphic lenses.

If you had a choice of shooting anamorphic 35mm, which lenses would you prefer?

At the moment, I am shooting a movie using a set of Panavision Primo close focus anamorphics. They are heavy, but I don’t care. Because the camera is on a dolly. The minimum focus is 2.5 feet. For the Steadicam or handheld camera I have 3 Kowa anamorphic lenses… not so bad. I have a 40, 50 and 75 mm. Good quality. So I match them with the Primos. It’s nice. I think it’s a good combination. And no zoom.

What camera are you using for this?

I’m using ARRI Alexa. Because of the 4:3 sensor. If Sony had the same sized sensor, I might use the F65.

How would you describe the color space of the F65?

I made tests—almost ten different shots, two shots outside, three shots in stage, two shots in the real location. We tested three different cameras and then we worked on the grading. First we graded the images to make the cameras’ picture as similar as possible in the DI. When we adjusted the three cameras almost all the same, Luc came to the screening and said that he liked the F65 best for the color and look of the film we were about to make. We tried to match everything. We tried to match the three cameras together to have the same look, but it was impossible to be the same, of course, because they are different cameras. Luc was referring to the green of the trees, the costumes, the skin tones of the models. For the look of “Lucy,” we felt the F65 was the best for the skin tones and for the colors of the film. I mean, it’s not a huge difference. You have to look a few times to be sure because it was very close when we tried to match in the DI. Also, the person doing the grading told me that with the F65 it’s very easy to find the natural color.

Was this the first digital film for Luc Besson?

Yes. It was the first digital film for him. The first one that he directed. But not the first one that he produced. On “Malavita,” we did some night shots with the Alexa. Because it was easier to catch the streetlights of the village. If we had done it in 35 mm, it would have been at 500 ISO. With Alexa, we could go to 1200 easily. And also we could open the shutter. I don’t mind opening the shutter to 360 degrees if there is not too much motion blur on the actors’ faces.

So whose idea was it to shoot “Lucy” in digital as opposed to film?

It was an evolution. A while ago I asked Luc if he wanted to shoot in digital and he said, “No, I want to shoot in 35mm.” But we did some tests back then with the F35 and the Panavision Genesis. Also at night, in the Place de la Concorde. I used the two cameras together, F35 and Genesis for a few shots. Because he didn’t want to use cherry pickers with HMI lights at night. He wanted to catch the natural light from the street lights in the Place de la Concorde. So we started in digital with Luc on this movie. On other movies, except “Malavita,” he asked me if it’s possible to use digital for night scenes. On “The Lady” we shot the whole movie in 35mm film. But with the evolution of digital, the quality of the cameras was getting better and better, and I said to Luc, “Now maybe it’s good to go digital.” For “Malavita,” he said, “No, I want to make ‘Malavita’ in 35mm. It’s probably the last movie that I’m going to do in film.” But for the next one, he said, “OK, I agree to shoot in digital.” When he saw the test, he approved the Sony F65. It’s nice because digital is getting technically better and better. I am not sure – but maybe Luc will go back to film for his next movie. It’s not impossible, you know? But for this movie, he agreed to shoot in digital.

It’s interesting that you chose the F65. I know a couple of rental houses in Paris bought F65s and they really couldn’t rent them for a while. And then all of the sudden you started using them and now everybody wants to shoot F65.

I know the F65 was not very popular a few years ago. The F65 came out 3 years ago, but this camera was not very popular until now. Two years ago, nobody wanted to use it. From the beginning, Sony said why not use the F65, make some tests, try it. Few people knew about it before.

I think also in the beginning people were afraid of 4K and maybe now it’s more accepted in France?

I don’t think so. The RED was already in 4K, you know? The RED was very popular. So I don’t think that’s the reason. I think the reason that the camera was not popular is it’s a little ugly. It looks a little cheap. And it’s a little too big. So people stayed away from a big camera. It’s a big camera. Much bigger than the others.

The film business is almost like the fashion business. If the camera’s not stylish, they’re not going to use it. It’s like fashion.

Yes, exactly. Not fashionable. Sony has to think about that. The Genesis was very ugly too.

Actually the Genesis, the Panaflex, and the F65 all kind of look the same?

The Alexa and the RED have the best designs at the moment for sure. The ARRI D-21 was not very pretty.

Do you use a light meter or how do you determine exposure?

No, no, I rarely use a light meter. Sometimes I use one during pre-light when I need to have a little reference of the level of the light. But on the set I don’t need it. Because we have the monitor. We know the exposure exactly: the blacks, the whites, if we are over or under, we know. Especially with the DIT, we speak about that. We don’t need light meters anymore with digital. I know there are some DPs who use light meters, but it’s a little funny. But sometimes it’s good to double check to be sure that the camera is doing well.

So physically on the set, you’re watching the same monitor as the DIT and then you say make it darker, lighter and so on?

Yes. I advise the DIT on the exposure because sometimes I want it to be much darker or sometimes I don’t care to be overexposed in some part of the picture. I might say, “No, no, you can go up in the picture” or “You can go down.” I love digital cameras now because you have the complete picture on the set. You don’t have to wait for the lab to process the film and screen the film dailies the next day. It’s very comfortable to have the picture on the set and to know is exactly where you go.

No more scary telephone calls in the middle of the night from the lab.

Exactly. I waited a long time for the digital cameras to have the quality they have now. In 1990, we saw the first digital cameras, but they were really still photography cameras. And I was thinking if there were some digital still photography cameras in 1990, probably in 10 years, we would have the similar digital technology in motion picture cameras. But it was not completely true. We waited a lot longer. I think the Genesis was probably the first good camera in digital. Before that, I didn’t really want to use a digital motion picture camera because I didn’t feel the quality was not good enough. So the first good quality camera in digital was the Genesis from my point of view. And when the Genesis appeared, I wanted to use it as soon as possible.

You didn’t like the F23, a 2/3 inch camera?

No. There were no digital cameras before the Genesis good enough for me. Of course, I am very happy to work in digital now, but I am not happy to work in digital if the digital is not the same quality as film. Because there is no reason to go so fast to digital if it is not as good as film. But I think with the Genesis, it was maybe not the same quality, but close enough.

And the F65 is definitely as good as film?

Maybe better. Especially now that we’re screening in 4K. The F65 has an 8K sensor.

How did you screen your dailies on “Lucy?”

I saw the picture on the set. I did the grading with the DIT. And after that we had an iPad with a reference of every scene. But on the set I saw every shot, every setup. After, I don’t care to see dailies. It’s not my thing to see dailies. The dailies are for the Director and for the Editors later on. But for me, I don’t need to see dailies. When we finish the day, for me, it’s completely finished. I don’t need to come back to the dailies. But I keep every picture on the iPad. It’s a still frame. Sometimes I want to be sure to have the same reference if I have to match something, so the iPad helps remember what picture we did.

Does Luc watch dailies on a big screen like a 4K projection or something?

Luc just wants to be sure that post-production is happy and there are no technical problems. He doesn’t need to see dailies on a big screen. Post-production makes a DVD or whatever that he sometimes uses to see the dailies for himself. Or he starts editing during shooting. I think sometimes during the weekends he goes to the editing room or to see some sequences or to see some dailies.

Have you seen the finished film yet?

Yes. I’ve seen the movie. But not the 4K screening yet. Luc asked me to come to a screening a few days ago, but I was not available because I am shooting the Jean-Paul Rappeneau movie (“Belles familles”) now.

How did you get started in film? Did you go to film school?

No, I never went to film school. When I was a child, I wanted to make movies and be a DP. When I was about 12, I had a Super 8mm camera and I would make films by myself. And at one point, when I was 17 years old, I began working with a DP as a First Assistant on some very small, cheap movies in 16mm. I worked my way up. After eight years as an assistant, I began working as a DP.

Are you also teaching film these days?

No, not really. I’m too busy working. I don’t have time to teach. But if La Femis asked me to come, I would go maybe one day. I taught one day at Luc’s school in the Cité du Cinema.

How was that?

Good, I was very happy to do that.

Is there anything else you would like to add about “Lucy?”

I think we made a very nice movie with Luc. I think the picture looks good in the trailer And I am sure it’s going to be a good film. I have a feeling that the movie is going to be a big success. It’s just my feeling.

Congratulations in advance. I think you’ll have a great success and you’ll be widely applauded.

Also, I just want to say that Luc’s films are always very beautiful. Because it’s Luc’s style. It’s something that we work on together. He helped me a lot to make this picture so good. It’s a collaboration. Luc has a very good style.

Your first film together was which one?

“Nikita.” In 1990. It’s a long time ago. And we have worked together ever since. I have shot all his films since “Nikita.” “The Professional,” “The Fifth Element…” I’m very happy to work with him all the time.



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